Group Drama & Comedy Sketch
Semiotics of Acting (*Wikipedia)
Semiotics of Acting Semiotics of Acting is the actor’s ability to transform into a convincing character in front of the audience. The audience no longer sees the actor as a performer, but sees a character in a completely different being. Once this occurs, the actor becomes a semiotic device, or a sign to the audience. A character as a sign can represent a multitude of different meanings to the audience. For example, if the actor is playing a character diagnosed with cancer, the audience may not just see a cancer patient, but may instead see a character they can relate to. The audience may relate because they may have dealt with cancer in a personal way, hence the actor has become a semiotic sign.
However, this technique is only effective if the actor gives a convincing and believable performance. The actor can become a semiotic sign to the audience through facial expression, emotion, and vocabulary. All these examples are known as performance signs. Performance signs are simple codes that the audience decodes during the actor's performance. It is the actor’s job to deliver that code effectively to the audience. If the audience does not believe the true human emotion through the character, then the actor has failed in their performance. Acting teacher Sanford Meisneronce said, “An ounce of emotion is worth a pound of words.”Great actors master performance signs in order to become a semiotic sign to the audience.
Acting involves two forms of communication: infrasensic (communication between characters) and extrascenic (communication between the characters and the audience). Both infrasensic and extrascenic communication must work in order for the audience to see the actor as a semiotic sign. The characters must be able to have good chemistry in a scene in order for the audience to understand the performance.
The actor is a semiotic sign representing the text of the script. Actors bring the text to life through performance and through the personal qualities they may contribute to the narrative of the text in the script. Actors represent the ideas of the text, but also create a new visually dimensioned reality through their performance.
Becoming an actor representing a semiotic sign can be a very difficult process to achieve. One must undertand the performance signs, the audience, and true human emotion.